The Cote de Beaune by Yak Shaya
The Cote de Beaune, a natural continuation of the Cote de Nuits, comprises the southern
part of the Cote d'Or. About 16 miles in length, the Cote de Beaune has only one red Grand
Cru (see below) within its limits. However here are be found, without doubt, the very
best dry white wines in the world! The red wines of the CdB are, by and large, rounder,
more supple and less robust than those of the Cote de Nuits.
The first 'meaningful' commune of the Cote de Beaune. Both red and white wine produced
from vineyards planted all over the beautiful hill of Corton. There are Village wines and
Premier Crus, but no doubt the name of Aloxe (pronounced 'Alosse' locally) is usually associated
with the two Grand Cru wines, the red Corton and the white Corton-Charlemagne. (I hope the
purists will forgive me for speaking of Corton-Charlemagne as belonging solely to
Aloxe-Corton. Strictly speaking, the appellation spans over three communes: Aloxe-Corton,
Ladoix-Serrigny and Pernand-Vergelesses).
About 40000 cases. Almost entirely red wine. Deep color and solid, even rough, fruit. Best
6-10 years after the vintage.
About 18000 cases. Mostly red. They are more intense, have more finesse and last longer
than the straight Aloxe-Corton. They do not rival however the Corton Grand Crus. The more
popular (though still not common) are Les Valozieres, Les Fournieres, Les
Marechaudes and Les Paulands. Best 7-14 years after the vintage.
About 30000 cases. The Cortons family of Grands Crus is different in two respects from
other Grand Cru wines in the Cote d'Or. First, the enormity of the appellation (in
Bourgogne terms) - more than twice than Clos de Vougeot - leads to big difference
in style and quality. Most of the Cortons are not really on Grand Cru level, though all
are entitled to the appellation. The second difference is that each plot of the huge
Corton vineyard is permitted to append its name to the Corton on the label. Thus we have
Corton, Le Corton, Corton, Clos du Roi, Corton, Les Bressandes,
Corton, Les Renardes, etc. There about 22 'Cortons', all officially Grand Crus, but
only the above mentioned, plus perhaps Corton, Pougets and the Louis Latour's
brand-name Corton, Ch. Grancey deserve the distinction. Of all the Cote de Beaune
reds, the Cortons are (not surprisingly) the most powerful and meaty. They seem to combine
the splendid structure of the Cote de Nuits with the supple elegance of the Cote de
Beaune. They take long time to mature, and on no account should be drank before they are
10 years old.
About 13000 cases. No doubt one of the greatest white wines in existance. Typically rich
and nutty, the best examples show grandiose structure and extraordinary long life. The
fruit, almonds, cinnamon, honey and oak are all present in the bouquet, while the rich
acidity and alcohol give the feeling of flint or steel on the palate. Some growers'
Corton-Charlemagne outlive their red Corton. Corton-Charlemagne is my
personal favorite of the barely affordable white (B). Best at 7-15 years from the
Bonneau de Martray, Coche-Dury (C-C), Latour, Jadot, Voarick, Bouchard (Le Corton), Moillard.
This small commune lies between Aloxe-Corton and Savigny-les-Beaune. Both red and white
wines are produced here. Except for the Corton Charlemagne (which was covered under
Aloxe-Corton) there are no Grand Crus in Pernand-Vergelesses.
About 25000 cases, 75% percent of which are red. The red are a bit hard and lacking in
finesse. They take 4-5 years to mature (well sort of...). The white are firm, with
mouth-watering acidity and are, IMHO, better value than the reds.
About 5000 cases, mostly red. There are five Premier Crus of which the best by far is Ile de
Vergelesses. The Ile de Vergelesses is a full bodied wine that has the most finesse,
length and harmony of the commune. Les Vergelesses is second. The rest are not much
different from the Villages wines. Best at 6-8 years from the vintage. Of the whites, Les
Caradeaux, which lies just below the Corton-Charlemagne vineyard, is the best.
Jadot, Chandon de Briailles, Bonneau du Martray, Chanson P&F, Latour, Voarick.
A bigger commune than Pernand. Mostly red wine though some (not too good) white is also
produced. The Savigny wines are well known and available all over the world, due to the
more than 1200000 bottles, the third largest production in the Cote de Beaune (after
Beaune and Pommard).
About 60000 cases of mostly red wine. Usually attractive elegant and light. Although they
can be consumed young, they do not posses the quality and intensity of the 1er Crus. The
best examples however represent good value.
About 40000 cases of mostly red wine. There are 18 Premier Crus in Savigny. The best known are
Aux Vergelesses, La Dominode, Les Marconnets, Les Serpentieres and Les
Narbatons. The Premier Crus represent two different styles. The ones that come from the
Pernand-Vergelesses side develop a delicate, silky texture and floral bouquet with age
(Les Serpentieres, Aux Vergelesses). The wines that come from the more gravelly, less
clayey, soil near Beaune are rounder, more complete, and take less time to open up (Les
Marconnets, La Dominode, Les Narbatons). A fine Savigny Premier Cru has a wonderfully scented
aroma with elegant taste. Best at 6-9 years from the vintage (though I've had an excellent
25 years Serpentieres from Leroy...).
Leroy, Jadot, Chandon de Briailles, Bonneau du Martray, Morot, Latour, Tollot-Beaut.
The vineyards surrounding the wine capital of Bourgogne produce a huge amount (in
Bourgogne terms) of wine, 94% of which is red. There are no Grand Crus in Beaune, but
there are many decent, sometimes even superb, Premier Crus.
About 50000 cases. Less common than the Premier Crus, and usually not very distinctive. The
good examples are straight forward Pinot Noir fruit and harmonious finish. Don't confuse
the straight Beaune with the Cote de Beaune or Cote de Beaune Villages. Best 4-8 years old.
About 120000 cases. There are 28 Premier Cru vineyards in Beaune. As usual, even
potentially they do not all have the same quality, let alone in practice. As everywhere in
Bourgogne, the winemaker is not less important than the vineyard. Beaune in particular is
the stronghold of the big negociant firms. They all own famous parcels here. Jadot's
Clos des Ursules (a monopole sub-plot in the Vignes Franches vineyard), Drouhin's
Clos des Mouches (red and fantastic white), even Bouchard's La Vigne de L'Enfant
Jesus, are all excellent wines. The Premier Cru vineyards of Beaune can be divided
into two groups. The northern vineyards (Les Marconnets, Clos du Roi, Les Cent Vignes,
Les Bressandes, Les Greves etc.) are firm and complete, with velvety finish, wines of
great breed that are excellent at 10 years and may last 20. The southern vineyards
(Clos des Mouches, Clos de la Mousse, Les Vignes Franches, Les Boucherottes etc.)
are just as elegant, but softer and quicker maturing.
Jadot, Drouhin, Bouchard P&F, Latour, Tollot-Beaut, R. Ampeau, Hospice de Beaune, Morot, Leroy.
Situated between Beaune and Volnay, Pommard produces red wine only. Back in the 19th
century Pommard (like Nuits-St. George in the Cote de Nuits) was sitting pretty in
comparison to its neighbors. Most of the south-of-Beaune less-than-exalted wine was sold
in Pommard's town-market, and thus became known as "Pommard" whether it came from
Pommard, Volnay, Monthelie etc. (this was before the laws of "Appellation Controlee"
dictated a wine should be sold by the location of the vineyard). Couple that with the fact
that the name 'Pommard' is easy to pronounce, and you have a recipe for a marketing
success of a generally tough, heady, inelegant wine. There are apparently a few very good
Pommard made from its best vineyards by the best of its winemaker. These, unfortunately,
are the exceptions and not the rule.
About 80000 cases. The wines tend to be full and tannic, many are lacking in fruit, all
are short on finesse. They generally follow the old-fashion misconception that Burgundy must
be heavy and unsavory.
About 50000 cases. There are more than 20 Premier Cru vineyards in Pommard. Some of them
are not much better than the village wines, most are better but still nothing to write
home about. There are two are exceptions: Les Epenots and Les Rugiens
(especially the 'Rugiens Bas'). At the hands of some excellent producers these are really
superb wines. Les Epenots is a soft wine with a rich heady bouquet and velvet
finish. Les Rugiens is a sumptuous deep-colored wine with the weight of Corton and
the elegance of Volnay. Unfortunately we are talking about less than 2% of what is sold
under the name of Pommard. These wines takes 10-15 years to open up.
Michel Gaunoux, Dom. de Montille, Billard-Gonnet, Dom. Parent, Dom. de Courcel, Comte Armand.
Red wine only is made in on the gentle slopes of this small village situated between
Pommard and Meursault. As was explained above, in the old days Volnay
had the distinct disadvantage of selling its own wine through the town-market of Pommard
and thus not making a name for itself. Except for a few well-known vineyards, Volnay had
to struggle hard when the new laws decreed that wine from Volnay must be sold as Volnay.
About 50000 cases. Straight Volnay is generally of much higher quality than straight
Pommard. Volnay is usually characterized as graceful, elegant, smooth and harmonious. The
wines are often compared with Chambolle-Musigny in the Cote de Nuits. May be drank at 4-5
years, and will improve for a few years more.
About 30000 cases. There are no less than 26 Premier Crus in Volnay. Just as the Villages
wines, the 1er Crus are generally noted for their fragrance and 'femininity', though some
of them have excellent underlying structure and can age very well. The best vineyards are
Les Caillerets, Champans and Santenots on the Meursault side, Clos des
Chenes up on the slope, Bousse d'Or, Taille Pied and Clos des Ducs near
the village. The Caillerets, especially the Clos de 60 Ouvree from the
Domaine de la Pousse d'Or, is the most profound of the pack, the others are more delicate.
From good source, all are a pleasure to drink. Best drank at 6-12 years.
Comte Lafon, Marquis d'Angerville, Pousse d'Or, Dom. de Montille, M. Lafarge, Rossignol.
The famous town of Meursault lies between Volnay and Puligny-Montrachet. Although a tiny
quantity of red wine is made and sold as Meursault, its world-wide reputation certainly
stems from the full-bodied, rich, complex yet very dry white wines.
About 140000 cases. Village Meursault usually reflect the character of the appellation
and are of good quality. Some 'climats' such as Clos de la Barre and Les Narvaux,
especially at the hands of the better producers, are often at the Premier Cru level. The best
examples should always display some 'fatness' or buttery texture and feel. Straight
Meursault are at their best 3-5 years after the vintage.
About 60000 cases. The Premier Cru of Meursault are among the richest, most luscious dry white
wines in the world. There are a dozen or so very well-known names, some of which are
further 'personalized' by the specific sub-plot of the vineyard. The best vineyards are
Les Perrieres, Les Charmes, Genevrieres and Les Gouttes d'Or. Many concur that
Les Perrieres should be promoted to a Grand Cru status. I certainly agree with that
notion, especially for the sub-plot of Clos des Perrieres, a monopole of Albert
Grivault. A good Meursault 1er Cru should have a rich texture, aroma, taste and long
lingering aftertaste. Hazelnuts, butter and spices are often associated with its flavors.
Best at 5-8 years (and more).
Comte Lafon, Coche-Dury, A. Grivault, R. Ampeau, Guy Roulot, Michelot-Buisson.
Certainly the most celebrated commune for dry white wines in the Cote d'Or.
No superlatives can do justice to the great Grand Crus that are within the boundaries of
this lucky commune. Puligny shares with its neighbor Chassagne some of the most fabled
names in the world of white wines. Also, here the confusion of Burgundy names has been
brought to an art form. The pivot name is of course Montrachet, arguably and potentially
the best white vineyard in the world. Everyone has availed itself of the name Montrachet
in this area, even Grand Cru vineyards on their own merit felt they should append
Montrachet to their name. So we have Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet, both
village names (and thus also names for the corresponding commune-level wines). Then we
have Batard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet and of course
(Le) Montrachet as the epitome of Grand Cru. (Montrachet and
Batard-Montrachet are shared with the commune of Chassagne-Montrachet)
About 55000 cases of wine of which 90% is white. The straight Puligny wines are firmer,
less opulent, less fat but more elegant than those of Meursault. They do not usually
represent good value, as they are relatively expensive without good reason except for the
reputation of the name Montrachet. Best be consumed 2-5 years after the vintage.
About 40000 cases of white-only wine. There are about a dozen Premier Cru vineyards in
Puligny, each has its own characteristics, but they all share the lean, clean and elegant
structure and taste. The more important ones are Les Combettes, Les Folatieres, Les
Pucelles, Les Clavoillons, Le Cailleret and Champ Canet. These wine are notably more
expensive than the straight Puligny-Montrachet, but from a good source (there are quite a few
excellent producers) and a good vintage they can be truly superb. Should be kept at least
4 years and can improve for more than 8.
About 2500 cases. This ultimate-giant of wines is potentially the best dry white wine in
the world. Potentially, because (not unlike its Cote de Nuits red counterpart -
Chambertin) the vineyard is divided among too many owners. At its best,
Montrachet combines the richness of Batard-Montrachet with the finesse of
Chevalier-Montrachet. Intense floral aroma with great concentration of fruit. Twice
as expensive as Chevalier-Montrachet but seldom twice as good. Best examples come
from DRC, Lafon, Ramonet, Laguiche (Drouhin) and Delagrange. Should be drank from 7 to 15
years after the vintage.
About 2000 cases. Directly above the Montrachet vineyard, entirely in Puligny-Montrachet.
Chevalier-Montrachet is a wine of great floral finesse. Usually has enough acidity
to stand to the 13%-14% alcohol. Its finish is endless. Extremely expensive but divine!
Best from Leflaive, Verget, Sauzet, Jadot and Latour (the 'Demoiselles' sub-plot). Best at
6-12 years but can last longer.
About 4200 cases. Directly below the Montrachet vineyard, Batard-Montrachet is usually full bodied,
has great richness and intensity. Good examples are golden in color, have nutty toasty bouquet,
mouth-filling fruit, complexity and harmony. Best from Leflaive, Ramonet, Sauzet and Niellon.
Best at 6-13 years.
Bienvenues Batard Montrachet:
About 1000 cases. Extremely fine wine from this tiny vineyard. A bit lighter than the
Batard-Montrachet but supremely elegant. Best from Leflaive and Ramonet. Best at 5-10 years.
Leflaive, Ramonet, Sauzet, Verget, Chartron, Nielon, Jadot, Latour, Drouhin.
Chassagne-Montrachet is the last important commune of the Cote d'Or. Lying just south of
Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne shares in the glory of having within its boundaries the
illustrious Montrachet and Batard-Montrachet. Additionally, it has one Grand Cru that is
all in Chassagne.
Unlike Puligny, Chassagne produces both red and white wines. In general its wines are
richer than those of Puligny but may be less elegant.
About 150000 cases of which 56% is red and 44% is white. The Village red Chassagne are
firm, fruity and have good color. The general quality for the red is quite high and as
they are relatively inexpensive they often represent good value. The Village whites are
usually fruity with good structure but not much style. They are very tasty but never
cheap. Best at 2-5 years from the vintage.
About 60000 of roughly equal amount of red and white wine. It is quite unusual to find in
the Cote d'Or Premier Cru vineyards that produce both reds and whites.
Chassagne-Montrachet is the exception in that respect.
The reds have deep color, spicy bouquet and dry-fruit flavors. They are a bit rough when
young and take years to open up. The best vineyards for reds are Clos St. Jean, Clos de
la Chapelle, Morgeot, Clos Pitois and Clos de la Boudriotte. They are best
drunk at 8-12 years.
The whites vary in style from the delicate and elegant Ruchottes through the light
and stylish La Romanee to Les Caillerets, Clos Pitois and Morgeot
with their intense and great length. They are best at 4-8 years.
(for Montrachet and Batard-Montrachet see under Puligny-Montrachet)
About 600 cases are made of this smallest white Grand Cru vineyard. The wine is elegant
and firm, less 'showy' than Batard. The main producer for Criots-Batard-Montrachet
is Blain-Gagnard and Louis Latour. Best at 5-9 years.
Ramonet, Delagrange, Bachelet, Morey, Blain-Gagnard, Laguiche, Duc de Magenta
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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.